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Monday - August 03, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Hail damage to Cenizo in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have some Texas sage Silverado. After the latest hail, they look very sad. If about the half of plant is OK and the other half looks dried/dead?, should we prune the dried half? Are they ever coming back?

ANSWER:

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) is a tough desert bush, but the weather has really handed it a one-two punch in Austin this year. Considering what hail can do to your car or roof, it's not surprising that the Cenizo looks pretty beat-up. However, after you read these Condition Comments from the webpage on this plant in our Native Plant Database, you may also understand what other problems the plant is experiencing:

"Conditions Comments: According to legend, cenizo tend to bloom in conjunction with rainfall. The ashy appearance of the leaves is due to the millions of tiny hairs covering them. Cenizo is easy to grow so long as it has good drainage. It makes a good screen or hedge. There are many nice color selections and cultivars. Susceptible to cotton root rot. Humidity and high night temperatures are lethal. Cultivated cenizos tend to become leggier with fewer blooms than in nature; tip prune to increase density. Cenizos should not be fertilized or over-watered. Drought- and heat-tolerant."

In particular, note this line from those comments: "Humidity and high night temperatures are lethal." And what have we been having in Austin this summer? Right. 

Before you start pruning anything off, give the dead-looking branches the thumbnail test. Scrape just a very fine layer of the skin off one or two of those branches, some higher, others closer to the roots. If there is a thin layer of green beneath that first coat, the plant is still alive and so are those branches. They are just laying low until Summer blows over. We would certainly suggest some tip pruning, and a little deep watering a couple times a week. Remember, this plant also needs good drainage, so if water is standing after you water it, that's too much. Spread some good quality shredded bark mulch over the root area, which will both hold in moisture and help to keep the roots cool. We predict you will see some recovery when the cool weather and (hopefully!) the rains come in the Fall. 

 

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